The election was over and all the campaign staffers had been laid off. I stood by the gate as they poured out of sleaze headquarters holding their pink slips.

"What are you going to do now?" I asked a dazed worker."I don't know," he replied. "I've been offered a job making cheap shots for the private sector."

"You manufactured cheap shots for the presidential campaign?"

"I was the best. I took ACLU cards and turned them into Saturday-night specials."

"It was a winner," I said. "Were you the one who polished up half truths to produce the specter of crime in the streets?"

"I ran the whole assembly line. They gave me a $100 bonus for inventing a faster way of making unsubstantiated charges. I also designed the `L' word which scared the heck out of the South. No one ever did understand what the big `L' really was, but it became a more important symbol than burning the American flag."

"I'm surprised that they fired you. Won't the candidate need cheap shots when he gets into office?"

"Apparently not, but in my opinion he is going to miss the sleaze factor, especially when he doesn't get what he wants want from Congress."

A second man came up. "Did you make cheap shots also?" I asked him.

"No, I was in charge of taking the low road. For example, we leaked the story that an opponent had suffered from mental illness. Then we had our headquarters say they had nothing to do with releasing it, which gave the story a further shove."

"Whatever they paid you wasn't enough."

"It was a living. But now I'm out on the street. Nobody cares about a mudslinger once the fighting is over."

"I wouldn't be too sure. There are a lot of talk shows Downey's that could use somebody as low down as you."

"I never thought of television."

By now hundreds of people were pouring out of the factory.

One lady said, "We've risked our health manufacturing negative charges and then they dump us out in the cold."

"There is just so much sleaze you can produce in an election campaign," I reminded her.

"I didn't make sleaze. I wove lies."

"You did? Such as?"

"I invented the one which said that, if elected, our opponent would shoot any gray whale which had escaped from the Arctic Circle.

"I heard that one but I didn't believe it."

"I was also in charge of distorting the opposition's stand on defense. When it came off the production line it looked like a Polish sausage."

"You shouldn't have lost your job."

"I guess it's part of the game. You lie, cheat and steal for the candidate, but then when he wins he doesn't know you and goes around telling everyone he is really a kinder, gentler person."